State pension age changes: The huge disadvantages WASPI women faced – are you affected?


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The changes are considered controversial, with many campaigning against the way in which they were introduced, and the impact the changes are having on the women born in the 1950s who were affected by the changes to the state pension age.

This includes the campaign group WASPI – which supports the principle of equalisation of the state pension age but does not agree with the way the changes were implemented.

Backto60 are also campaigning on the matter, with this group’s focus being full restitution, damages and compensation.

During an interview with last year, Joananne Welch, Backto60 campaigns director, said: “50s women have suffered lifelong inequality, like the pension gap, the pay gap, the maternity gap. It’s like, ‘Mind the Gap’.

“You’d have to be a 50s woman to actually understand these gaps.

“Women weren’t even entitled to occupational pensions. It was seriously as bad as that.”

WASPI has also discussed the inequalities women born in the 1950s have faced.

A spokesperson for the campaign group told “WASPI women were at the forefront of the fight for equality in the workplace.

“We suffered from unequal pay and a lack of opportunities and battled sexism and discrimination head on.

“WASPI women are proud of the progress that has been made but we still have a long way to go.

“We never had equal pay in the workplace which makes the Government’s mismanagement of changes to the state pension age even more devastating.

“We are a generation of women who relied on getting our state pension at 60 and we were not given enough notice to put in place alternative measures.”

While gender inequality still exists in many forms today, life for 1950s women no doubt looked different to younger generations today.

So, what was their experience like? WASPI explains to that many women of this generation left school at 16 to get jobs, and there were strong perceptions about a women’s role in the workplace and at home.

On top of that, WASPI explains women born in the 1950s frequently encountered sexism and discrimination in traditionally male dominated roles, resulting in unequal pay and opportunities.

In the past, many women were not allowed to join company private pension schemes, with many WASPI women working part time to balance family responsibilities but not permitted to join private pension schemes or access company beneifts – leaving many dependent on the state pension.


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This is a generation of women who were actively discriminated against in the workplace if they were perceived to be “at risk” of having a baby in the near future, WASPI says, adding that many women of this generation were denied jobs on this basis.

Expanding on this, the campaigners say they’ve heard many many examples of women being asked very personal questions in job interviews.

In the workplace, career progression could differ. One woman has recalled how men doing the same role as her were offered management training, but the opportunity wasn’t ever offered to women.

Traditionally, women have assumed caring responsibilities for elderly parents or dependents too, which affects their ability to have a full working life or private pension contributions.

Shockingly, the gender pay gap and the gender pension gap still exist in the modern day, and research by Chip has found that over a lifetime, men have £5,365 more disposable income to save than women.

Despite a record number of women being in employment (72.4 percent) – the highest since records began – the average annual private pension income for men aged 65 and over is £8,620 while for women it’s £3,920, research by PPI revealed by NOW: Pensions has shown.

This represents a gap of £4,700 or a 55 percent decrease.

Women typically taking on caring responsibilities is something which has been identified as a significant factor in the gender pension gap today.

According to the report, the gender pensions gap is because women are more likely to work part-time in their career while caring for children, or – further down the line – for elderly relatives.

The result can mean both interrupted pension contributions and limited earning opportunities, and consequently women, on average, face a pension pot £100,000 less than the average man’s, the Pensions Policy Institute has found.

Baroness Jeannie Drake, one of the architects of automatic enrolment, said: “Millions of savers miss out on workplace pension contributions when they are caring for children or elderly relatives.

“This is why I lodged an amendment in the Lords to the Pension Schemes Bill just last week, seeking a review by the Secretary of State of how auto-enrolment provisions could address the pension penalty in retirement that relevant carers experience.

“A ‘carer top-up’ for those who are missing out on workplace contributions would make a real contribution towards their pensions.

“This would help approximately three million women, in addition to 300,000 men, to top up their pension savings whilst taking time out of work to be carers.

“I sincerely hope that the Government is receptive to the amendment and recognises that we need to act to help more women save for their own futures and close the gender pensions gap.”

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